Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Geruma Sports Day (undokai)

Geruma is my smallest school, with only 13 students.  As such, all of the teachers have to participate in the eisa performance and Zamami and Aka both send student delegations so there is competition in the sporting events.  Many photos to post over the next few days.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Hazel was helping me with a couple of morning shoots for the Zamami People Project a few weeks back when I needed to use her for some light tests.  Yesterday I decided to use her images for some post-processing experimentation:

[I wasn't picky about focus when I took this shot, unfortunately]

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sabani 2011

The annual traditional canoe (Sabani) race was held last weekend after being canceled in June due to a typhoon.  There were 28 boats who raced from Zamami to Naha.  I think my team came in 8th.

Though it didn't turn out very spectacular, a lot of work went into the photo above.  I am standing atop a lighthouse to get this picture. The previous day I kayaked to this point, parked my kayak on the beach, climbed the overgrown trail up to the lighthouse, then figured out a way to climb it (and they've designed it to dissuade people like me).
I also borrowed a wider lens from another photographer, then got a ride out 20 minutes before the race start from my team's support boat.  Unfortunately, I think I am too high up for this to be an interesting picture.  If I have a chance again next year, I would climb the cliffs which are just out of the lower left of the frame.
Anyway, Zamami-maru is leading the charge in this photo, en route to winning the race.

[my team] 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Zamami People Project

I've alluded to this a couple times, but now for the big announcement!  I hatched a plan a few months ago to do something special for Zamami during my fifth and last year here.  It seemed appropriate, after this much time in a community that has treated me so well, to give something back.  To be honest I can't tell you which ideas I rejected because my mind pretty quickly settled on this one: photographing the community over the next year and culminating with an exhibition at the port next summer.

Before I could lose enthusiasm for the project (which would be a bad sign), I quickly wrote down 40+ photo ideas.  Then I started the small (so far) red tape portion of the project: getting approval from the village office both to photograph for the project and also to have space to display the photos next summer.  The exhibit is so far away that I'm not worried about those details now, I mostly want everybody to have an inkling of what this project is about so my photographic requests don't seem random.  I've also written a letter about the project to give to those whom I want to photograph, detailing their specific shoot, clothing I want them to wear, and other necessary details.

I want the project to center around people who make this community interesting and special (everybody?).  So, for example, there will be shots of school kids, old people, dive guides, summer workers, the mayor, kayak shop owners, key figures in the whalewatching business, probably even some school, police, hospital, and post office staff.  There is a possibility I will pull some shots from my archives, but primarily I want all of the content to be new and developed specifically with this project in mind.  With that said, you've already been seeing some photographs on the blog that were shot for the project.  I debated whether or not I wanted to post the project pictures on the blog, but since most blog readers live on land that is not Zamami, it seems like a good idea to include you.  But if you live in Naha or the Okinawan mainland, I'd love it if you could plan a trip out to see the exhibition next summer.  :)

The project became financially official last week when I ordered an $850 printer.  Ordering all the prints I want for the project would easily run me over $1000 (in Japan), so this printer will allow me leeway for testing and in the end it won't cost me much more but I'll get to walk away owning a fancy printer.  Also, all of my going-away gifts next summer will probably take the form of photographs, so this will lessen that cost.


Here is one of the shoots I did last week.  This is the school sabani team along with a man who helps out the school whenever something is needed from the community.  This photo is about him and I wanted to show the connection he has with the school, so I thought this would be a fun idea.  The race was last weekend and even with all my preparation - asking permission through various channels as well as getting the main man off his dive boat and to the beach for the shoot - I was still pushing my limits with the 10 minutes it took to set up and complete the shoot.  I thankfully fired off a bunch of extra frames (total about 15) because there were some focus issues as well as problems with people looking at the camera and this is a result of a composite.  There is actually a girl still looking away that I may fix later.

An interesting side note is that this photo shoot upset a couple people because of the man I chose to be in it.  As I said before, this photo is about him, not the sabani team.  They are an accessory.  But this was hard to explain and there were a few people who were annoyed because there is a different community member with a greater role in this year's school sabani team.  Hopefully the placard that accompanies this photo will clarify what I was trying to achieve.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sabani 1

The Sabani race was held last weekend.  Here are a couple shots from Saturday, when the teams were moving their boats from the harbor over to the start at Furuzamami:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Annual Birthday (plus a week) Post

I haven't been in a 'produce content specifically for the blog mood' in awhile, which is nice for those of you who just like to look at pictures, but it was brought to my attention that I skipped out this year on my annual review of data on my birthday.  So let's do it a week late.

[fatter or more muscular?]

Birthday height: 181cm (71.25 inches, 5'11.25")
Birthday weight: 186kg (189 pounds)*
Files in my iStockphoto portfolio: 174
Downloads on iStockphoto: 264
Roundtrip airline trips in the last year: 3 (America, Tokyo Marathon, Hiroshima/Kyoto)
Marlin caught this year: 4 (I think)
Average number of hits on last year this time: 2-3/day
Average number of hits this year: ~30 (50% from Google, 33.5% from referring sites, 16.5% direct traffic)

I've just finished my fourth year and am entering my fifth and final year.  It's strange - the last couple months I have been a lot more unsure of that decision than I was when I made it in February.  I wouldn't say that I regret it - and I doubt that I will since I just passed through one of the tougher times of the year (for me) - but I got close.  I've seen/done most of what I want to see/do here and my mind has begun wandering off to everything out there in the rest of the world that I'd like to do.  I'm getting into dangerous 'feeling trapped' territory, but luckily I have a few things to keep my content.

I am working on a photo project which I will soon officially announce on the blog, but that is and will be taking up a lot of my time over the next year.  I'm excited about that because it makes me think about my life here from a slightly different perspective (one of recording it, which is a good way to remember this place by, I suppose).

I will be heading to America in a month for some hunting, then I'll jump into running season.  I have a couple races I'm interested in doing, but nothing even close to decided.  Going to Kyoto next spring for the cherry blossoms is on my ideas list, but otherwise I'll keep being an awesome teacher, plan for my successor and my next phase of life, take lots of photos, and continue sharing it all with you.

(I just reread last year's birthday post and here was the last line: Hopefully by next year the pictures I post to the blog will have gone from 'straight-out-of-the-camera' to 'wow!' Haha.. are you wowed?)

*I am not sure where those extra pounds came from as my clothes all fit the same and I have been running a lot more this year than normal at this time?  Does muscle weigh that much more than fat? 

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Few Good Things

I was writing this blog post for my birthday, but then I went a produced a blog-worthy event.
So here is a summary of good things that have happened to me recently:

It took me three years, but I officially became an exclusive contributor to iStockphoto!  A contributor has to have 250 downloads and an acceptance percentage of 50% on submitted files.  I have worked hard in the last eight months to bring my acceptance percentage from around 20% up to 60%, where it currently stands, while my content from iStockalypse Tokyo (Nov, 2010) provided the downloads.  My royalties will go up by 10% which is quite nice.  Some of the other perks include higher rankings in the search results, inclusion into the two high-end collections which offer huge royalties (but they are only for the best photos, so I'll be lucky if I get even a few in there), and free business cards with my images on them!

Here is the file that took me to 250:

I wrote about this before, but in June I photographed a Zamami woman for a magazine article.  The magazine came out this month, featuring some of my pictures.  I think it is unfortunate it's in black-and-white, but any publicity is good publicity, right?

[The name of the magazine is "Island".  That's not my picture on the cover.]

[all pictures but the lower right are mine]

Also, I will include my favorite picture from the Miyajima fireworks show.  Hopefully this will make the high-end collection at iStock: